Delivering a cancer diagnosis: Check perception first


If you dont take the time to learn your clients perceptions about cancer, youre skipping a step. In this audio clip from a recent CVC session, veterinary cancer specialist Sue Ettinger explains how to give your clients an opportunity to share what they know, what they expect and what they want.

If your clients look like this after you deliver bad news, you should probably (definitely) listen to Dr. Ettinger's advice. (Getty Images)According to Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (oncology), when it comes to delivering a cancer diagnosis, it's not what you say but how you say it.

Ettinger bases the “how” of the conversation around the SPIKES protocol of delivering bad news. If you're not familiar, here's the breakdown:

S = Think about the setting of the conversation.

P = Assess the client's perception of the diagnosis.

I = Get an invitation from the client to have a conversation.

K = Provide the client with knowledge about the diagnosis.

E = Address the client's emotions with empathy.

S = Summarize the conversation and strategize the next steps.

In this audio clip from a recent CVC session, Ettinger goes into detail about one piece of the SPIKES protocol: How to properly assess a client's perception about cancer.

BONUS: In addition to building open dialogue and veterinarian-client trust, the SPIKES protocol can end up saving you time in the long run, as clients are more likely to remember the information you've shared.

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